All surfers are infatuated with the warm waters, hollow barrels, and native beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.  Out in the lineup, it’s common to meet someone who became seduced by the Hawaiian surfer-lifestyle, moved to the Islands and never looked back.  Stuart Coleman did just that.  Home grown in the East Coast, Coleman was on the constant search for bigger waves and sunny weather.  After landing a job that brought him to the Islands, Coleman decided to make his dream a reality and turn Oahu into his permanent vacation spot.
In the past few years Coleman has published two books and has become the Hawaii Chapter Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation.  Even with working on his upcoming book and Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics Campaign, Coleman still finds time to surf and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle Oahu has to share.  A big mahalo to Stuart Coleman for sharing a little bit about his journey.

LT: The first thought that comes to my mind whenever I meet someone from the East Coast that has made the journey to Hawaii is “this guy has got it right.” What sparked you, a South Carolina native, to move to Oahu and completely integrate yourself into surf culture?

SC: I started surfing the menehune waves in Charleston, SC when I was 14, and it changed my life.  Even though my dad was a minister, the ocean became my church.  From then on, I read all the surf mags and dreamed of surfing bigger waves in California and Hawaii.  I even had tsunami nightmares! I moved to SoCal after college and enjoyed surfing classic spots like Malibu.  Then, after studying creative writing in grad school, I landed a job teaching English at Punahou School, and Honolulu has been my home ever since. So my dream of living in Hawaii finally came true.

LT: In 2002 you published your book “Eddie Would Go” about the life of Hawaiian surf icon Eddie Aikau. What’s your interpretation on Eddie’s impact on what you refer to as the Hawaiian Renaissance?

SC: As a surfer, Eddie was an amazing big-wave rider who rode some of the biggest waves ever surfed at Waimea Bay.  As a waterman, Eddie became one of the first lifeguards on the North Shore and saved hundreds of lives during his career, never losing anyone under his watch.  But when Eddie sailed on the Hokule’a and sacrificed his life to rescue his fellow crew members, that’s when he became an icon of the Hawaiian Renaissance.  The Hokule’a embodied the resurgence of Hawaiian culture at that time, and he gave his life trying to save the voyaging canoe, its crew and the vision of the Hawaiian Renaissance.  That sacrifice is what made him a real hero.

LT: During your three years of research for the book, you had the rare opportunity to interview the Aikau family. Why do you think they were so willing to share their family story with you compared to the numerous other publications and documentaries that have approached them?

SC:  While teaching at Punahou, I met former teachers and big-wave pioneers Peter Cole and Fred Van Dyke, and they introduced me to the Aikau family.  Seeing how passionate I was about telling Eddie’s story, they really opened up and started sharing these amazing stories about his life.  After talking to them, I interviewed almost forty people, including the fellow lifeguards who worked with Eddie and the sailors who had sailed on the Hokule’a with Eddie.  I think the family understood how much I respected Eddie’s legacy and was willing to do the extensive research to get the story right.

LT: In addition to being an accomplished author, you are also a prominent figure in the Surfrider Foundation. How did you end up becoming the Hawaii Chapter Coordinator?

SC: I had worked as a volunteer for the Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu Chapter for eight years before finally becoming the Hawaii Coordinator position.  At that time, I was also finishing my second book Fierce Heart and was writing about Rell Sunn’s work as a board member with the Surfrider Foundation. So my roles as a writer and environmental activist really came together at that point.

LT: As an environmental activist, why do you think is it important that other surfers and watermen become involved with foundations like Surfrider? 

SC: Surfrider is one of the most prominent and effective environmental organizations in the country dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.  With almost 80 chapters, our activists are always fighting for better water quality, beach access, conservation and coastal preservation. Yet it’s sometimes frustrating to see how many surfers take these things for granted until there’s a crisis at their local break.  If surfers want to protect our beautiful coastal playgrounds, they should join Surfrider and help our efforts to save the last ocean frontier.

LT: How do you get locals involved with Surfrider? I know you guys have an event coming up in March…

SC: We have four Surfrider chapters in Hawaii on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and in Kona, and we have an active Surfrider Club at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.  We are trying to start more Clubs at high schools and community colleges, and  anyone can join by coming to one of our monthly meetings, beach cleanups or special events.  We’re having a big Rise Above Plastics Party at the Waikiki Aquarium on Sat., March 26, and that should be a fun way to get our message out there and recruit new members because we throw some good parties!

LT: What other events or projects are the Hawaii chapters working on?

SC: Our biggest project right now is the Rise Above Plastics campaign because we’re trying to reduce the proliferation of single-use plastic bags and bottles.  Americans go through more than 100 billion plastic bags each year, and on average we use them for about 15 minutes, and then they end up in landfills or in the ocean for hundreds of years.  Seabirds, sea turtles and other animals mistake the floating plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them.  Millions of marine creatures die each year to ingestion and entanglement of plastics.  So to reduce the source of these land-based plastics, we need to ban or impose a small fee on single-use plastic bags.

LT: John Kelly and George Downing paved the way for coastal protection groups with their organization Save Our Surf. Why was SOS so significant in the historical perspective of beach and ocean conservation?

SC: John Kelly was the founder of Save Our Surf, and he used his status as a legendary waterman to educate people about the threats to our coastal areas.  Along with George Downing and many young activists, they helped stop more than 300 projects that threatened Hawaii’s shorelines, including a proposed freeway built on the reefs over the ocean! Each November, Surfrider’s Oahu Chapter hosts our annual John Kelly Environmental Awards Party to honor those who have made a difference to our coastal environment.  John Kelly was the first lifetime achievement winner, George Downing was the second, and we at Surfrider are following in their footsteps.

LT: Can we expect another book from you in the near future? Perhaps on surf conservation?

SC: I’m working on a new novel about a surfer whose brother is brutally beaten and almost killed, and he tries to find out who did it and why…well, I’d love to tell you more about it, but that wave is still building and can’t be ridden just yet!

LT: Any plans on moving back to the mainland, or has the slow-paced rhythm of the Islands captured you?

SC: Although I miss my family and friends on the mainland, Hawaii has gotten under my skin and seduced me with its warm water and beautiful beaches.

LT: I recall reading you began surfing during your childhood and it helped overcome your fear of drowning. Have you succeeded in overcoming that fear?

SC: Yes, I used to have a recurring nightmare about drowning as a kid, and I could see a huge wave rising on the horizon and washing away my hometown.  Ironically, after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, I saw my worst fears realized when I saw small coastal towns in Sri Lanka that had been devastated by walls of water almost 30 feet high.  Staring at the rubble of buildings that were washed away, I rediscovered a healthy fear of the ocean.  But surfing always helped me overcome those fears.

LT: As an avid surfer, do you have any new fears that have arisen? Sharks? Spiky reefs? Polluted waters?

SC: When I was living in SoCal and surfing in Malibu, I remember getting sick because the water quality was so bad at times.  So my new fears are that our coastal areas will become so polluted that we can’t surf anymore without coming down with something.  That’s partly why Rell Sunn got involved with Surfrider to help protect our beaches and water quality, and we’re fighting to keep that vision of healthy coastlines alive.

 

 

Holly Beck is more than a world class pro surfer, she is an iconic figure in the surf community.  She breaks down any stereotype of the pro surfer as she embodies the titles of an environmentalist, scholar, actress, and world traveler.

I was blessed to catch Holly for an interview immediately after one of her excursions to Nicaragua.  With new stories and memories still swimming in her mind, she was more than thrilled to expose her most recent adventures.  Constantly on the move, Holly considers herself “technically homeless” and therefore she generously agreed to conduct the interview over an Internet exchange.  Although we have yet to meet in person, it is apparent through her actions and observations that she exudes kindness and creativity in the water and on land.  Whether she is globe trotting searching for the perfect point break, aiding children in Nicaragua, or leading a surf retreat with Waves of Hope, Holly holds true to her motto “do it for the love.”

LT: Starting off with the basics, hometown and current city?

HB: Palos Verdes, CA. I’m technically homeless, so my current city is wherever I’m sleeping at the moment, which could be anywhere (this week it’s Portland Oregon).

LT: What sparked your love for the ocean?

HB: My parents aren’t really beach people but I did spend some time on the sand in the summer as a kid. In Jr. High I started actively riding shore break on a boogie board and fell in love with the ocean. I remember noticing the surfers and thinking that standing on a surfboard looked like a lot more fun. I asked my mom to learn to surf but she said, “no way. Surfing is for boys!” It took me a few years to save up babysitting money and find a surfboard and wetsuit at a garage sale, but once i did i never looked back!

LT: How did you become actively involved with non-profit work?

HB: When I graduated from UCSD in 2001 and turned pro, I suddenly didn’t know what to do with all my extra time. Rochelle Ballard (who was one of my heroes at the time) was running a non-profit called IWS (International Women’s Surfing) with the goal of representing the pro women surfers and providing more opportunities for them. I got involved and soon became president, a title I held for the next 6 years. I learned a lot about fundraising, web design, and organization.

LT: What is Waves of Hope and how did you become involved?

HB: Waves of Hope is a local community development program focused on improving the quality of life for the local community through education, development, and volunteer efforts. It was founded by some friends of mine who built an eco-friendly surf resort in Northern Nicaragua and wanted to use it to do good within the community. I support them 100% by helping to raise awareness for their cause and lend a hand whenever i’m in town.

LT: What’s so attractive about Nicaragua that you’ve decided to concentrate your attention there?

HB: Nicaragua is relatively close to the US, affordable, safe, friendly with good food and excellent waves. I also speak the language. Because of those things, it’s my favorite place to hang out.

LT: On a typical trip, how much time do you spend there?

HB: The length of a trip varies for me. I’ve never been there for less than 10 days or more than 3 months. The longer I’m there, the harder it is to leave.

LT: Sometimes the smallest change can create the biggest difference in someone’s life.  This definitely holds true for your involvement in changing Roger from Nicaragua’s life.  How did you meet Roger?  What inspired you to help him?

HB: Roger is a 19-year-old local surf kid that I met while surfing. From the beginning he stood out because he had a great smile and was one of the most friendly, mellow kids. I’d always chat with him in the water and at one point I realized I hadn’t seen him surfing in a while. Finally he showed up in the water on a boogie board and I asked him what happened to his surfboard. He told me that he’d hurt his knee and surfing was too painful. He needed surgery but couldn’t afford it. The $1,200 price tag was way more than he could ever pay, even though it seemed cheap compared to US surgery prices. He comes from a very poor family that has endured a lot of tragedy and he’s such a nice kid that I really wanted to find a way to help him. I hired him to help me out in Nicaragua but I just didn’t have enough work for him to do to help raise the full amount. I moved recently and came across a ton of old surf gear that I needed to get rid of, so I had a big garage sale and decided to donate all the money raised to Roger’s cause. Between the sale and donations from friends I was able to raise the full amount for his surgery.

LT: You offer people the chance to join you on your surf adventures.  What does the typical day on a surf trip entail?

HB: The surf retreats are so much fun! We surf, ride horses on the beach, play volleyball, eat really great food, boat ride through estuaries, check out baby sea turtles hatching, board down a volcano, and participate in projects with Waves of Hope. It’s a great relaxing but exciting adventure packed week where you can chill in a hammock or never stop moving depending on what you’re looking for. The best part is making new friends, encouraging each other to push your limits and improve your surfing skills in warm water and un-crowded waves. The next one is the first week of February 2011 and I’m planning another for the last week of March.

LT: Many surfers appreciate the joys of the ocean but few truly give back to the environment they love.  What is so appealing to you about the life of a soul surfer?

HB:  I’m still a pro surfer but I like to keep the soul in it. I competed all over the world for 7 years and just got tired of going to the same places every year and stressing over the competition. I wanted to travel to new places and actually have time to explore and interact with the people and cultures. It was the best decision ever and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity.

LT: Any advice for fellow watermen that want to follow in your footsteps and become involved in giving back?

HB: Do it for the love.

Aloha and a huge Mahalo to Holly Beck.

To check out Holly’s blog click here.  To find out more or sign up for Holly’s surf retreat, click here.

 

Since 1998 Ride a Wave has been giving children with special needs the opportunity to experience the thrills of surfing regardless of if they are physically, mentally, or economically challenged.  Ride a Wave has acquainted over 2,500 kids with the ocean and has shared with them the excitement of surfing.  With the help of over 300 volunteers, Danny Cortazzo, founder of Ride a Wave, has provided participants with life-changing experiences which reinforce their achievements and potential.  Funded entirely through donations, fundraising activities, and sponsorships, Ride a Wave is always encouraging community members to take action and become involved.  Volunteers are not limited to ocean and surf experts; the success of Ride a Wave requires a wide range of volunteer help.  Professional photographers volunteer their time to document and capture the smiles and spirits of all participants.  Since it’s creation, the foundation has spread past its’ home base in Santa Cruz, CA to assist Malibu Board Riders to serve kids with special needs in San Diego, Malibu, and Carpentaria.  To become involved in Ride a Wave as a participant or volunteer, click here.

At any given time a surfer can easily list off at least ten different ways surfing is beneficial to one’s health.  Some surfers are convinced it’s the Vitamin D absorbed from exposure to sun rays, or the cleansing properties of salt water, or the high that is only achieved through total immersion in nature’s raw elements.  Regardless of where each surfer discovers his own refuge, all agree that the ocean provides a sanctuary to all that seek healing.

Israel and Danielle Paskowitz witnessed their son Isaiah find his balance in surfing.  Diagnosed with autism at age three, Isaiah discovered peace in the ocean when his father took him tandem surfing.  Realizing the comfort Isaiah experienced while surfing, the Paskowitzs’ organized Surfers Healing; a camp dedicated to sharing the miracle of surfing with autistic children and their families.  The camps rely fully on volunteer support in order to ensure free access to all families that wish to participate.  Each child is individually introduced to the ocean and given private lessons from an experienced surfer volunteer.  Contact izzy@surfershealing.org for more details about volunteering.

For the past year world-class surfers from all corners of the globe have been swarming to enter the online contest which awards the top contestants an opportunity to be featured in Taylor Steeles new movie Innersection.  Contestants submitted a short two-minute clip that highlighted their biggest aerials, tight snapbacks, and deepest barrels.  The public has voted, the ballads counted, and the points tallied;  the end result?  Twenty top surfers, all selected by fans, will be highlighted in the new flick showing off some heavy swell shredding.  As if this wasn’t sick enough, the winners have expanded their two-minute clips into longer segments overflowing with fresh footage.  The dvd, available for purchase, contains a vote code in which viewers then use to vote for their favorite surf section.  The results of this final vote mark the finish line of the contest; and the winner will walk away with 100 k.

This Friday night November 26, each surfer featured in Innersection will be hosting his own premiere at a venue in their hometown.

All-time wave ripper and dance groove master Mike Losness will be hosting his premiere at the La Paloma theatre in Encinitas, CA.

“I chose La Paloma because it is my favorite place to go see new movies.  It is also where I’ve gone to see the new Taylor Steele movies since I was younger.  It should be a rad night.”

Losness has collected a bunch of goods to raffle off in which all the proceeds will be donated to his foundation of choice. (johnnykickscancer.org)  The foundation focuses on educating the public about children diagnosed with Leukemia.

All shows are scheduled to begin between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm on Friday November 26th.  Click here to find out locations and venues hosting the premieres.

In heat of the earthquake that shook Indonesia, which sparked Mount Merapi’s eruption and the destructive tsunami off the coast of Sumatra, Surfaid has been actively involved in supplying relief to locals and those affected by the natural disaster. Only hours after the 6-10 foot tsunami washed through the Mentawais, Surfaid launched an emergency response to assess damages and send out the first batch of first-aid supplies.  Due to the remoteness of the areas affected, the Indonesian Government requested that Surfaid take a leading position providing data concerning the various locations of devastation.  Massive storms and harsh weather passing through the Mentawais have hindered Surfaid’s relief efforts.  The death toll has risen to 431, 88 people have been counted as missing and 400 reportedly injured.

Surfaid CEO Andrew Judge requests more aid for the Tsunami Appeal, “We have budgeted to spend $2.86 million in the Mentawai after the tsunami and we need to raise nearly one-quarter of this through our public appeal.”

To donate to help the 15,000 people left homeless click here.

Today the surf community has lost one of its greatest athletes, enthusiast, and waterman.  32-year-old Andy Irons passed away Tuesday November 2, in route back to Hawaii from the Rip Curl Search in Puerto Rico.  Irons missed his Saturday heats in the contest due to illness and was traveling back to home to seek medical attention.  Sources confirm that he had contracted Dengue Fever.  The three-time world champion leaves behind a pregnant wife, family, and a ohana of friends.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Andy.

 

Save the Waves is hosting a film festival Friday, November 12th in the historic Victoria Theatre in San Francisco.  The second annual festival will feature a live performance by My Peoples before the world premiere of Dave Rastovich’s film Transparent Sea followed by a screening of 180 South.  Transparent Sea follows Rastovich’s journey along the Australian coast drawing attention to endangered whales threatened by over fishing, hunting, and pollution.

Doors open Friday, November 12 at 7 pm.  Film screening begins at 8 pm. 21 and over.

To purchase tickets click here.

Last Saturday in Nagoya, Japan the United Nations finally passed a global treaty that will ensure the protection of world forests, coral reefs, and a multitude of other ecosystems threatened by human involvement.  Delegates from 193 countries agreed to take “effective and urgent” action to halt the destruction of Earth’s precious ecosystems.  The hope is within the next decade there will be significant improvements to endangered environments and a growing number of land and water preservation reserves.

After two weeks of heated debate, prompted by non-profit environmental organizations, the UN’s decision to strike an accord may be an indicator that nation leaders are at last acknowledging the fast depletion of Earth’s ecosystems.  Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have been pushing for dramatic changes to the way humans interact with the ocean.

Greenpeace commented on the UN’s treaty,  “Alarm bells have been ringing for decades, and developed nations have been hitting the snooze button by delaying both action on and funding for environmental protection.”  Greenpeace hopes to eventually preserve

40 percent of the oceans.  For now the treaty has committed to protecting 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans.  This decision is a significant advancement considering only 13 percent of land and one percent of oceans are currently under UN protection.

In his opening statements to the UN, Achin Steiner stated “This meeting is a part of the world’s efforts to address a very simple fact – we are destroying life on Earth.”  Although passing this new accord is by far the greatest proactive initiative towards conserving the environment the world has yet to witness, it is only a baby step in a long climb towards healing our planet.

The Sea Turtle Restoration Project fights to protect endangered sea turtle populations worldwide.  Founded in 1989, the STRP is a project of Turtle Island Restoration Network, a non-profit organization based in California.  Unlike TIRN which focuses on preserving all marine life, STRP uses a combination of grassroots education, legal pressure, hands-on conservation, media, research and policy advocacy to direct their attention to sea turtles.  STRP recognizes the sea turtle endangerment as not only a single species tragedy, but also acknowledges the necessary shift humans must take to develop a healthier relationship with the natural environment.

The website features details on TIRN’s 12 campaigns, a few of which include:

BP Gulf Oil Spill – Help aid the sea turtles that have been affected by the tragic BP oil spill disaster.

Climate Change and Sea Turtles – Impacts of global climate change on sea turtles.

Australia’s Sea Turtles – Threatened by industrial development, the sea turtles in Northwest Australia are on the edge of extinction.

Marine Mammals – Whales, dolphins, and seals need immediate attention and protection from fisheries and human activities.

Saving the Sea Turtles from Fisheries – Each year tens of thousands sea turtles are accidentally trapped and harmed by US commercial fishing.

Kemp Ridley Protection – Seeking to protect the endangered Kemp Ridley sea turtle nesting ground in Texas.

Bag the Plastics – Fights to decrease the amount of plastics that litter our oceans and harm our marine life.

Sea Turtle Restoration even offers awesome trips such as “Meet the Flatback” Eco-Tour, which is a 7 day excursion in the Australian flatback in which participants patrol the white sand beaches at night for sea turtle nesting grounds then relax during the day at a multi-award winning eco-resort.  Or win a trip for two to a Cocos Island, Costa Rica scuba diving expedition (worth $13,280).  This 10-day, 11 night journey features one of the world’s greatest scuba diving locations and proceeds will support sea turtle and shark protection efforts.  They even offer careers, internships, and volunteer opportunities for those looking to take a greater stance in involvement.

And for those of you still contemplating a last-minute Halloween costume, why not make a statement and create your own sea turtle outfit? Follow the easy step-by-step instructions that will ensure not only making a statement and coolest costume at the party.

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